DogSmith May Newsletter
In this edition of our DogSmith newsletter we are offering the first 20 people who respond to us a free bag of Holistic Premium Pet Food to try. We believe so strongly in this product that we know you will love it too. It is formulated by Dr Jane Bicks, delivered directly to your door and contains human grade ingredients. No corn or wheat, chemicals or preservatives. If your dog has allergies, flatulence, an unattractive coat or sloppy stools then email us today and change the way you feed your pet dog or cat.
Nutrition and Diet
Are you one of those dog owners who have the attitude that their dog likes variety in his diet? Well the dog’s digestive system does not like it, a dog’s digestive system is designed to recognize and digest each particular type of food. It then produces a form of bacteria which helps it break down and digest that food. If you change your dog’s food constantly y giving it snacks and bits and pieces from your plate then the digestive system will not have the bacteria necessary for proper digestion and your dog will have runny and/or smelly movements. If you feed your dog or your cat a good quality food then you do not need to add bits and pieces to their dish. Find the best diet for your dog and then stick to it.
Is there a need to change your dog’s diet? Here is my 8 point questionnaire modified from the original version published by John Fisher, Think Dog.
- Does your dog have flatulence?
– The food you are using may be difficult to digest
- Are his or her motions inconsistent in quality, sometimes loose and sometimes firm?
– A sign that food is undigested and is not absorbing water in the digestive process
- Is the stool volume quite large and invariably quite smelly?
- A direct result of undigested fermented food
- Does your dog have allergic problems or regular allergic reactions to fleas, grass, corn or wheat?
- If your dog’s body defense mechanism is constantly in action fighting allergens in the food then if your dog also suffers from grass or other allergies the extra attack breaks the camel’s back. Remove the food allergen and your body can cope better with the seasonal allergies.
- Is the activity level unacceptable either way?
- The balance of your dog’s food is a key factor not only to their health but also their energy levels. Too much protein creates hyperactivity when energy calories also need to come from fats and complex carbohydrates.
- Does your dogs hair or skin look unhealthy or suffer from hair loss
- The protein in your dogs diet may not be the right quality or is being used for energy, a vitamin and mineral deprivation will also have the same effect.
- Is your dog always eating grass, shedding sticks or digging up roots in the garden
- This can indicate that the food is not being digested properly. It can also indicate a lack of minerals or that the digestive system needs more or a better quality fiber.
- Is your dog eating paper, tissues or toilet paper and it appears to be fiber based.
-Also can indicate a need for fiber to assist in the digestive process.
How to Choose a Quality Premium, Holistic Dog Food.
Speak to somebody who understands canine nutrition
Choose a dog food product that uses human grade ingredients
Avoid preservatives and chemicals
Don’t just read the guaranteed analysis, understand the quality and source of each ingredient
Don’t avoid the premium foods because of initial cost, you save hundreds of dollars in veterinarian bills if your dog is healthy.
Make sure the food has antioxidants, minerals and vitamins
Avoid corn and wheat - they are hard to digest and just a filler item.
The food should contain fruits and vegetables
Look for foods that contain Omega 3 Fatty Acids
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” Hippocrates
If you are interested in receiving a free sample of the dog or cat food we consider to be the best value, the most fresh, and the most professionally formulated then email us at NTudge@dogsmith.com or call 850 625 1097.
Dispelling the Canine Alpha Myth
Before we can dispel the canine alpha myth we first need to explain the basics of canine social systems. Dogs live in social groups and they establish a social structure within the group. This hierarchy or “pecking order” serves to maintain order, reduce conflict, and promote cooperation among pack members. This social order must be established and maintained with a minimum of combat in order to prevent pack members from being injured or killed. This is accomplished by a variety of subtle signals and ritualized behaviors such as vocalizations, body postures and maneuvers, and eye contact. Without a hierarchy, these social cues are not respected and full-scale fighting results. A position within the hierarchy will be established by each member of the group based on the outcomes of the interactions between it and other pack members. The more dominant animals can control access to valued items such as food, sleeping sites, and mates. For domestic dogs, valued items might be food, toys, sleeping or resting places, and attention from the owner.
There are several models of dog hierarchies:
· A Despotic hierarchy which is a single individual who is dominant over the rest of the group.
· A linear hierarchy where there is a clear pecking order.
· Triangular hierarchy which is unstable as there is no dog in charge.
However these hierarchies are not set in stone and can vary based on the day of the week, male or female and whether there are puppies. Females tend to have their own hierarchy and on some days they will decide that they will impose their leadership over the males in the pack. Sound familiar? Hierarchies also change based on the individual dog's preferences. We never know what a dog is thinking but we do know from their actions what their preferences are based on where they choose to rest, the toy they choose to play with or the person they choose to offer their attention too.
Many of us were raised on the myth that we have to be the Alpha and at the top of the hierarchy and to a certain extent, we do. The misunderstanding is how we do this and what actually being Alpha means. I have been asked many times, how I make myself alpha? Must I walk through doors first? Should I feed myself first? Should I not allow my dog to sleep on the bed? Etc. Many people use the phrase “I need to be at the top of the pecking order”. This always amuses me as the expression came from studies on chicken pecking orders and there is much more knowledge about chicken pecking orders than dog dominance models. The research is fascinating to read and I find it amazing that there has been very little empirical research done on dog social groups and their hierarchy considering many more of us own dogs than chickens.
Previous assumptions on dog social hierarchies and dominance models were developed from short term studies of wolf packs in the 1940s. These studies were a great start but did not recognize that wolves are distant cousins of dogs. Hundreds of years ago dogs and wolves took different forks in the evolutionary road and have adapted to different environments. The wolf adapted to the wild and the dog to a life of domestication. Because of this dogs and wolves are very different animals living to different social rules in different environments.
Dr. Ian Dunbar spent nine years studying the social behavior of dogs as part of a 30 year study performed by Dr Frank Beach at Yale
and UC Berkeley. Specific focus was devoted to the social behaviors of a beagle dog pack. In short, the findings of this research showed that male dogs have a rigid hierarchy. Female pack members have a hierarchy too but with much more variation and when the two are mixed together the males try to follow the structure, often with difficulty, as the females create their own rules depending on how they feel on any given day.
Within this social structure it was found that puppies have a “puppy license”. They get away with almost everything until they are about four months of age when it is quickly revoked. Most importantly to pet dog owners, the study showed that there is no physical domination. Top ranking dogs accomplish things using psychological harassment, ritual behaviors that the pack responds too. Most alpha dogs rule benevolently and because they are so confident in their position there is no need to fight or squabble. In fact the squabbling and scrapping is done by the middle ranked animals that are insecure and want to advance over other middle ranked animals.
So Alpha status means to control the resources, something we can all do with our pet dogs without using physical corrections, 'alpha rolls' or verbal abuse. Enroll your dog in training classes and using positive methods you can establish yourself as the alpha. Apply the NILFF mantra (nothing in life for free). Have your dog work for their treats, their dinner, and their toys confirming repeatedly that you control the resources. Reward all the wonderful things your dog does and not only will you assert yourself as alpha you will develop a trusting bond with your dog that will ensure you have a well balanced social order where everyone feels secure, trusted and happy.
At the age of 10 days most kittens’ eyes are open and their senses are developed. They are however not yet able to retract their claws. They still hold their tails erect as they need help balancing when walking and you can also notice that when walking kittens only raise one paw at a time to make them more stable in motion. When a kitten is hungry, cold, feeling trapped or isolated they will cry. This begins with a wide open mouth. When they reach three weeks of age the touch receptors on their paws are developed, they are still learning to balance and appear a little clumsy. At five weeks of age their body is fully developed and when they reach twelve weeks of age they have the grace and agility of an adult cat.
Even though cats are agile and have grace remember they are fragile animals. They have small rib cages that can be easily bruised or broken. For a cat to enjoy being picked up, it must first feel very comfortable and secure. It must be able to trust you. Don’t ever pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck. Though you may have seen cats handled this way in the past, it’s not appropriate treatment; cats need to have their weight supported at all times.
How To Exercise Your Kitten
Like us cats must burn the calories they consume. The best way to do this is through regular calorie control and regular exercise. Exercise through play is a great way for you to bond with your cat and to stimulate the cat’s instincts. Toys, perches and cat “trees” all provide some measure of physical activity. There are also lots of fun games you can play with your cat.
1 Hide n Seek: Crawl behind a doorway or furniture and say the cat’s name in a high-pitched voice. When the cat locates you, pet or nuzzle him/her as a reward. Then find a new hiding location and repeat the game.
1 Chase: Flick a crumbled piece of paper or small stuffed mouse across the floor for the cat to chase. Some cats can learn how to fetch and will return for another round.
1 Flashlight: Turn on a flashlight in a darkened room and wave it around so the beam of light “dances” around the room. The cat will likely chase the light (just don’t shine it in the cat’s eyes.). There are ‘laser’ lights specifically sold for cat play.
1 Feather toy: Attach a feather toy to a kitty fishing pole. As you move the pole the feather dances in all directions exciting the cat and awakening his natural predatory and pounce behaviors.
Monthly Training Tips
Teaching the “Leave it” command can save your dog’s life. It is a very simple cue to teach and fun for both dog and owner.
The 'leave it' cue has many uses. If you drop something on the floor and want the dog to 'leave it', if you want to stop the dog from sniffing at something, taking something or picking something up you can use 'leave it'. If trained properly it can be used to stop a dog moving towards a cat or other animal. The cue is trained starting with a very simple exercise and progressing onto more complicated forms of the behavior. Build a solid foundation before you progress. You will need a clicker and a small quantity of soft treats the size of your little finger nail. (To learn more about clicker training, contact your local DogSmith)
Place a few pieces of low value treats in your hand. In your other hand, the hand you are going to deliver the reward from, have some really high value treats. You will use one hand as the tempting hand and deliver the reinforcement from the other hand.
Place your open hand with treats about five inches away from the dogs face, be prepared for them trying to grab the treat
As they move to take the treat, say “Leave it” and close your hand quickly
As soon as they look away, or make any gesture to move their focus or their attention away from the hand (click) and reward them.
If you score five out of five then move to the next level. The dog is learning if they relinquish what is in your hand they get rewarded. Before you go onto Criteria 2 repeat this exercise using your other hand as the temptation hand.
Repeat criteria 1, only this time move your hand two inches closer and below the dog's face. .
Place your open hand with treats about two inches under and away from the dog's face.
If they move to take the treat, say “Leave it” and close your hand quickly
As soon as they look away, or make any gesture to move their focus or their attention away from the hand (Click) and reward them.
If you score five out of five then move to the next level. The dog should be showing fast signs of moving their head away from the temptation in your hand
Place the temptation reward on the floor, hover your foot over the treat so if they make a move to take it you can cover the treat. Ensure the dog is not able to get to the treat before you if the temptation is too much. Dogs are more often picking up things from the floor so this exercise may be more difficult than the exercise using the hand.
If the dog makes any move or glances toward the treat on the floor, say “leave it”.
You must be the thought police and anticipate their actions. As soon as they look away, or make any gesture to move their focus or their attention away from the treat (Click) and reward them.
If you score five out of five then move to the next level. The dog should be showing fast signs of moving their head away from the temptation on the floor.